"It's terrible to wake up and wonder why this person's head is on the other pillow," confesses a New York City writer who slept with about two dozen women in the first months after his divorce. "It was painful for them and me too." Says a Chicago bar owner: "All the happy-go-lucky singles in my place tell me that they do not want a relationship. Then six months later they are engaged." A businessman in the Boston area, currently in mid-divorce, is swearing off the one-night stand. "I don't want it, don't need it and don't believe in it," he says. "I hope to find one person to share my life with. Who doesn't?"
After the sexual revolution, the voices of Thermidor. From cities, suburbs and small towns alike, there is growing evidence that the national obsession with sex is subsiding. Five-speed vibrators, masturbation workshops, freshly discovered erogenous zones and even the one-night stand all seem to be losing their allure. Veterans of the revolution, some wounded, some merely bored, are reinventing courtship and romance and discovering, often with astonishment, that they need not sleep together on the first or second date. Many individuals are even rediscovering the traditional values of fidelity, obligation and marriage. Or as one San Francisco sex therapist, Lonnie Barbach, puts it, "We've been going through a Me generation; now I see people wanting to get back into the We generation."
The buzz words these days are "commitment," "intimacy" and "working at relationships." There is much talk of pendulum swings, matters coming full circle and a psychic return to prerevolutionary days. "We are in a '50s period again," says Miami Psychiatrist Gail Wainger. "People are looking for more lasting relationships, and they want babies." In the '70s Wainger's case load was predictably heavy with patients complaining about sexual inadequacies. "Not having an orgasm was an O.K. reason to come in for therapy. Now they come in because they are not happy with their lives, their jobs, their inability to find relationships."